Our Appliqué Group went on a four day retreat recently. There were only eleven of us that could go this time. We were a small but mighty group of ladies. I can’t wait to show you the great things we did in such a short time.
Can you believe what eleven women can do in four days? Never underestimate a woman with a sewing machine!
One weekend Mac came to visit us and we started playing Monopoly. Gramps’ playing piece was the hat, mine was the thimble and Mac’s was the car. The game lasted from one day to the next, as it often does.
It was becoming clear that Gramps was going to win, as he had all the hotels and houses. Whoever landed on one of his properties next was going to go bankrupt. Mac sat up straight and announced, “I’m going to sell my car!” and promptly traded his playing piece in for the horse. Gramps tried to convince him that the maintenance cost of a horse would probably be more than the car, but Mac was convinced his luck would change.
Gramps, of course, won royally, but what a laugh we had!
A week ago a dear friend of mine lost her husband of 39 years. He left behind a wife, three married daughters and six young grandchildren. When another friend and I went to visit he at her daughter’s home, we were greeted at the front door by a grandson approximately five years old. He immediately told us, “My grandpa died yesterday.” I assured him we knew that and we were there to tell them how sorry we were that their grandfather had died.
All my experience as a mother, grandmother, family elder and Hospice Nurse told me that that child’s immediate blurting out of the family tragedy was a good and brave thing to do for a boy his age.
Young kids can sense when something unusual is happening and they just need to know the truth of the matter. They may not need to know each and every detail but they do need the essence of the story. Otherwise their imaginations will have them convinced that something far worse is actually happening and it is also probably their fault.
Young children, especially, need to know the basic facts of the situation, what happened and what, if anything, can be fixed. They need the assurance that someone is still in charge, that the adults can still be relied upon and that the routines will continue, for the most part.
When a death occurs in the family, the children will usually heal about as well as the adults. That doesn’t mean there won’t be sadness or crying or lots of remembering. The little ones learn from the elders how to deal with tragedy and grief. They need to realize that immense sadness is handleable and survivable. The only way is to model the actions of the adults.
The Dresses – How spectacular are those costumes! Especially the upstairs dresses! And how they have changed over the years in the story, from fabulous to wonderful to stupendous. Which era is better for gowns and embroidered frocks, I cannot say. They all have been beautiful. I will miss watching the women change 4-5 times a day for meals and every occasion in between.
The Furniture – I am fascinated by everything in the background – the overstuffed chairs, the straight back dining chairs, the loungers, the big soft beds, the colorful rugs, chests with a drawer for every item of clothing, that immense dining room table that seats 22 or more. I love all of it. Each little piece has a purpose all its own. One chair for reading, one lounge for fainting on, one table for tea service, and on and on.
The Accents – From the proper English spoken by the Grantham family to the Irish brogue of Tom Branson, the chauffeur/son-in-law to the Scotch tongue of Mrs. Hughes, downstairs housekeeper, all the languages spoken in the past by several of the characters are hinted at by the accents they use in 1900’s England. What a wonderful melting pot it becomes in one household both upstairs and downstairs.
The Kitchen – A lot happens in the castle kitchen and it is all very authentic to the time and station. How fascinating to see in detail how a true Victorian household was run from downstairs. And who wouldn’t fall in love with Mrs. Patmore on first sight? I am sure her bark is worse than her bite!
The Romance – There is actually a lot of romance and love among all the stories at Downton Abbey. I am enthralled by them all and am rooting for all to make it in good English style to the end. We can’t forget the ill-fated loves of Sybil and Tom, and Mary and Matthew. But there is still hope for the ongoing romances of Bates and Anna, Carson and Mrs. Hughes, and the family Lord and Lady Grantham. It may sometimes seem like a soap opera, but I truly adore a good love story.
Maggie Smith – Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess is the star of the show. Her character has the wisdom and wit to carry any conversation and opinion to make it interesting. She challenges every new convention and all change in general. No one gets better or more biting one liners than the Lady Violet. She will be missed most of all as she has made her character the center of the family as well as the center of the story of Downton Abbey.